The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA has three major projects with significant public transport components. The first is the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, service between Mile 12 Ikorodu Road and Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos Island. Dedicated bus lanes were created on Ikorodu Road, Western Avenue, Eko Bridge and the Outer Marina in Lagos at the inception of this service.
The second project is the reconstruction of the Lagos to Badagry Expressway into a ten-lane highway with dedicated lanes for BRT service and a light rail corridor in the central area of its cross-section. The third project is the reconstruction of Ikorodu Road from Mile 12 to Ikorodu Town Roundabout.
LAMATA is the regulator for transport services in Lagos. It grants franchises to operators on various routes with stipulated fares. LAMATA has implemented the construction works on these projects on behalf of the Lagos State Government, LASG.
In the process, LAMATA has acquired the role of an operator as LAMATA has to provide maintenance for the road pavements and for the rail tracks. LAMATA should therefore establish Road Maintenance and Rail-Track Maintenance Agencies to look after the roads and the rail tracks on a daily basis.
The present arrangement in which LAMATA awards a rehabilitation contract for the road pavement every two or three years is not ideal. At the dedicated bus lanes on Ikorodu Road, there are currently places which the bus drivers avoid or in the alternative the buses are brought almost to a complete stop as the deterioration of the road pavement has made passage through those places unsafe.
The Managing Director, LAMATA has stated that Lagos and Hong Kong are two places where public transport can be operated at a profit. This explains the rather indifferent service provided by the current operator between Mile 12 Ikorodu Road and Tafawa Balewa Square.
It is apparent that the operator makes a profit with a minimal level of service. The operator currently has about 230 buses available for the service which should have about 400 buses. I would suggest that on a different day each week over a period of time, LAMATA should send two teams of its staffers on the route, one team to travel between Mile 12 and Fadeyi and the other team between Fadeyi and Tafawa Balewa Square.
I believe their reports would bring improvements to the service. A situation in which buses are not available in the middle of the day because everyone is on break is not acceptable. Bus scheduling is a well-known problem in operations research and LAMATA can assist the operator by indicating appropriate management tools to the operator.
There remains the issue of how to get an efficient BRT service between Mile 12, Ikorodu Road and Ikorodu Town Roundabout. LAMATA should engage another operator to provide this service.
The franchise agreement should indicate the number of buses to be provided initially and the reinvestment programme which the operator must adhere to. The LASG has obtained a substantial World Bank loan for the reconstruction of Ikorodu Road and the expected benefits to the population from this investment can only be realised if an adequate number of buses is provided on this BRT route throughout the day.
The on-going project which the next governor of Lagos State must complete is the rail line from the Lagos to Badagry expressway to the Marina, Lagos Island. This rail line is completely separated from road traffic. Its completion and the successful operation of a rail service would make the public better appreciate the need for the implementation of other components of LAMATA’s Master Plan. Next week, we shall start with toll roads and bridges.